Case Study: Employee Engagement at GlaxoSmithKline

Culture and values

Our work on culture and values is inextricably linked with all our areas of expertise: Employee Value Proposition, Employee Experience & Engagement, Great Leadership, Employer Brand & Recruitment and Innovative Workplace. We work with you to understand the environment required for business success on the one hand, and to create high employee engagement on the other. We help to align both sides with recommendations for process and culture change. Our work with GSK was to do just that, by understanding what culture and values should represent their new business merged from four existing ones.

The goal

The research project was developed to gain in-depth insight into the culture of four separate businesses in the UK and Ireland which were being merged to increase commercial execution capability. This change was part of a global transformation of the Consumer Healthcare business. For the client this project was important for two key reasons:

  • It would form a key part of the communications and engagement strategy
  • It was to provide crucial insight that would inform the people element of the business strategy for the merged organisation

We worked with a multi-disciplinary team including the HR Director, Marketing Director and Head of Communications.

The research goal was to understand the sub cultures and motivations of the individuals in the four businesses.  This would be used to create one organisation that would shift the culture and meet the needs of employees during the change.  We sought to understand what different employee groups valued and wanted to keep, what they wanted to leave behind and what would create a motivating and engaging culture. Specifically we needed to elicit deep insight into the following:

  • What is was like working in each of the four businesses?
  • What were the similarities and differences?
  • What were the hopes and fears of employees for the new integrated business?
  • What works and doesn’t work for them now?
  • What needs to change or adapt to increase motivation and engagement?
  • What did the leadership team need to do to create a culture in the new business that would allow them to achieve their strategy?

What we did

We elicited insight that led to practical recommendations by:

  • Reviewing all existing data (results of engagement surveys, exit interview analysis, existing culture analysis, and business goals of newly merged business)
  • Creating a bespoke online survey (in terms of content and style) in partnership with the client
  • Surveying employees in 10 segments across four locations
  • We ran nine focus groups with employees and conducted 15 interviews

We worked with the client to achieve a 75% completion rate for the survey. This was important as we needed to connect with as many employees as possible to signal to them that the company really cared about their views. The main output was a report containing the insight, findings and recommendations including priorities, quick-wins and practical actions. The data was segmented across business, function and employee demographics.

The difference we made

There were a number of benefits to the client:

  • The insight we gained informed the actions required and enabled our client to prioritise the actions.
  • The project was a phenomenal engagement tool. It made people really feel that the company cared about their views and wanted to create the right culture in the new organisation
  • It reinforced some of the knowledge and hunches that the leadership team already has as well as providing new, valuable insight.

Some feedback from the leadership team on the report:

Data rich with clear priorities and actionable
Refreshingly honest, clear and easy to read
Written in plain English
Congruent with the organisations values; respect, transparency and integrity
A great engagement and sense-making tool

“talentsmoothie… deliver actionable outcomes

Talentsmoothie demonstrated both a clear understanding of the needs of the organisation during this change and engagement process combined with a sense of urgency to deliver actionable outcomes. Open to feedback and responsive, this made the process enjoyable as well as insightful.
The HR Director, Ruth Gibson commented

If you found this Employee Engagement case study of interest and would like to know more about our work in GSK or discuss how a similar project might work for your organisation, call Justine James on +44 (0)7710 778961 or email her at

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